So, let’s talk..

Mental Illness.

A topic most people are afraid to discuss. If you don’t understand mental illness, you’re afraid to acknowledge its existence. If you have a mental illness, you’re afraid of the stigma.

Knowledge is power. I’m a firm believer of this.

So let’s talk about it.

Mental illness is a terrifying topic. I used to be so afraid to discuss it and how it’s touched my life in many ways.

Addiction. Depression.

This is what affects me. I first began to learn about these topics when I was just a young girl. There was so much I didn’t understand. I saw my mother’s struggle though. I was ashamed. Embarrassed. Scared. To me, my mom just partied too much. The things she said while under the influence, well that wasn’t anything more than “oh, she just drank too much.”

I didn’t understand the seriousness of her words. My mother was an alcoholic. And in addition to her addiction, my mother was battling depression.

As I got a little older I became resentful. Why couldn’t she just STOP? Why did she HAVE to drink? She was selfish in my eyes.

And then I started noticing the addiction in the rest of my family. My uncle (my mom’s brother) was an alcoholic with a drug addiction to boot. Their biological father was an alcoholic. My older brother was so dependent on drugs that he couldn’t get out of bed in the morning without being stoned.

Addiction runs through my blood. And instead of being a support system to these people, a hate grew inside of me. I didn’t want to understand. I just wanted them to grow up and get over it.

But as I got older, I began to understand.

As I began to party and drink and experience these things on my own, a dependency grew over me. I stopped drinking to have fun. I started drinking, and daily too, because I needed to. I was unhappy and had found an escape. One I wasn’t able to easily shake.

This dependent feeling I had, it scared the shit out of me. I didn’t want to acknowledge the fact that I was depressed. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. This battle was mine, and mine alone.

And I lived this way for many years. Not talking about what was going on with me, and dealing in very self destructive ways, it became harder for me to hide what was happening.

Anxiety attacks began to happen so regularly. The first time I had one of those, I was terrified. I thought for sure – this was dying.

I was naïve. So I started talking about it. Not to family, which I know I should have. But to certain friends, I shared my truths.

I started dealing with my problems. I did research. And throughout that process, I began to see the light. Find my self worth.

The shame and embarrassment I felt disappeared.

It’s easy to feel like it’s your fault with mental illness, because no one knows how you truly feel in your struggle.

Even when trying to describe my OCD – people make light of it. “You’re just being silly.” “Nothing bad will happen if you just stop.”

These are the things I hear when people see the obsessive traits I portray. What they don’t understand is the panic and helplessness that takes over my whole being when something doesn’t go just as I need it to.

Basically from everything I’ve said, the point I want to make is this:

It’s okay if you don’t understand. I struggle with these things on a personal level and I don’t always understand. But don’t ever be afraid to talk about it. It is okay if you ask questions. Don’t be afraid to bring it up to someone you know who deals with mental illness. Be considerate, curious. Learn. Be supportive. And help remove the stigma.

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